Are You Ready to Plant, Here's Something to Think About.
Too much residue in the seedbed is never a good thing, which is why residue managers are essential to achieving uniform emergence. Residue managers push aside the residue that could get in the way of your seedlings and prevent them from developing uniformly. Brad Freesmeier, a farmer in southeastern Iowa, currently uses row cleaners from Yetter on the 1,100 acres he farms.[i] According to Freesmeier, row cleaners are key to improving uniformity. Yetter Iowa Territory Manager Andy Thompson says many farmers in Iowa are placing more emphasis on uniform emergence every year.
Planting depth has a huge impact on root development as well as plant development, so a uniform seed depth is one of the key factors to promoting uniform emergence. Kirk Reese, agronomy research manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, says, “In general, recommended corn planting depth ranges between 1.5 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Seed-to-soil contact is maximized when corn seed is planted at the recommended depth.”[ii] Emergence may be delayed with deeper planting, but corn will emerge more uniformly.
The use of starter fertilizer jump starts growth, feeding the plant just what it needs while it is becoming established. Because of this, it is crucial to healthy emergence. There is a wide variety of starter fertilizer options available that can be tailored to your specific needs. Consult your local agronomist for a recommendation.
Soil testing can also play a crucial role in seed emergence. Refer to the November 20, 2012, issue of the Leading Edge for valuable information on soil testing.
Says Yetter Territory Manager Jared Head, “Think of soil like a blanket. If your seed is completely wrapped up in the soil, it’ll sprout more consistently. Soil acts as a moisture conductor. The more contact, the more moisture is available to help the seed sprout.” Investing in good closing wheels can help provide good seed-to-soil contact by closing the furrow. Closing wheels will crumble the soil and help firm it down around the seed.
“Furrow management plays a bigger role in uniform emergence than most farmers realize,” says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. According to the Farm Journal, the type of closing wheel you should choose depends on four factors: “tillage system, soil texture, field conditions, and weather.”[iii]
Even emergence positively affects yield
Though this list is not comprehensive, the above factors can be monitored and changed to help achieve more uniform seed emergence. For every 1,000 seeds that don't emerge or emerge unevenly, your yield can decrease up to seven bushels. From proper residue management to starter fertilizer to seed-to-soil contact, getting your crop off to the right start will pay off in the long run.